Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Judge Sets Rump Classified Documents Trial For May 2024; Devastated Odessa Fears Fifth Night Of Russian Attacks; Legendary Singer Tony Bennett Dead At 96; South Korea: North Korea Fired Multiple Missiles Into Sea Off Korean Peninsula; Hollywood Banking On "Barbenheimer" To Pack Movie Theaters. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 21, 2023 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's at 9:00 A.M. and noon Eastern.


Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Twitter, BlueSky, if you have an invite, the Tiktok, I'm back on it @jaketapper, or you can tweet the show @theleadcnn.

Our coverage continues now with Jim Acosta. He's in for Wolf Blitzer in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. See you soon.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Donald Trump has a trial date in the classified documents case that is deep into the 2024 presidential campaign season. The judge setting a May start time and denying Trump the post-election delay he wanted. But will the timetable hold?

Also tonight, the devastated Ukrainian city of Odessa on alert for a potential fifth straight night of Russian missile strikes, this as the CIA director is issuing ominous new warnings about where and who Vladimir Putin might attack next.

And tributes are pouring in for the legendary singer Tony Bennett after his death at the age of 96. We'll talk to two iconic crooners who are carrying on Bennett's legacy, Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr. are joining us live. That's right.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our top story this hour, the new trial date on the calendar for Donald Trump, the former president turned criminal defendant heading into an election year packed with legal proceedings as a third indictment may be around the corner.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Paula Reid is joining us now with all these developments. Paula, now that the judge in the classified documents case has this trial date set for next May, how do we expect things to unfold? PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, as part of this order, the judge included a list of 30 deadlines and dates, all the things that have to happen between now and a potential trial.

Now, today the Trump Team said they are confident that they are going to be able to push this trial until after the election. And, Jim, if you take a look at this list, this schedule laid out by the judge, it's easy to see how they could do that. You have one or two deadlines slide, a hearing get delayed, and the closer they get to the election, the less likely it is that this trial is going to occur before America votes for the next president.

ACOSTA: Yes, it will be surprising if it happens on that day.

On the 2020 election probe, Donald Trump was invited to come before the grand jury this week after receiving that charging letter. His new lawyer today explained why. What did he say?

REID: That's right. Yesterday was the deadline for him to appear before the grand jury. We didn't expect that he would do that, but his lawyer a short time ago weighed in with why he didn't do that. Let's take a listen.


JOHN LAURO, LAWYER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There's no need to appear in front of any grand jury right now. President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. He's done nothing criminal, and he's made his case that he was entitled to take these positions as president of the United States when he saw all these election discrepancies and irregularities going on. He did what any president was required to do.


REID: Now, he also said, Jim, that they're going to make a push to have cameras in the courtroom. As you know, there are no cameras in federal court, but regardless of the motivation, we're all for a little more transparency.

But now that that deadline has passed for Trump to go before the grand jury, a potential indictment can come anytime.

ACOSTA: And on the state level Trump's as a potential indictment looms down in Georgia, Trump's legal team is trying and yet again to get the D.A., Fani Willis, thrown off the case. What can you tell us about that?

REID: Yes. They're really tossing anything at the wall down there to see what will stick. So far, they have not been successful. This time, they're making a filing arguing that Fani Willis has a, quote, conflict of interest. Jim, it's not expected that this challenge would be successful and we do expect the decision on charges, potential charges down there in Georgia in the next few weeks.

ACOSTA: All right. Paula, stay with us as we bring in more of our legal and political experts. Guys, great to see all of you. I really appreciate it.

Norm Eisen, let me start with you first. Is this a fair trial date? What do you make of this date of May of next year? Paula was saying it will be somewhat surprising if it happens on that timetable, but that's pretty far off.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, having tried criminal cases for more than three decades, a year is more than enough to try this case. The prosecution narrowed from the hundreds of potential of classified documents down to a little bit over 30 in the complaint.

They've already provided a roadmap to the defense, someone unusually hears the key documents. They turned over what they could. They're rushing through. I think those 30 steps can be met if the DOJ works hard and if the judge is serious about it. That's the big question here. If there's slippage, will there be a little bit of slippage or a lot? We'll know when we start jumping these 30 hurdles whether people are keeping up with the pace or not.


And we'll find out if this judge is serious about it. Some judges will hold you to it.

ACOSTA: Right.

REID: I disagree with you. What I saw in court on Tuesday, for example, she asked the defense attorneys, she said, look, how long is it going to take you to go through this discovery? They said, we're not going to be able to tell you until November. They also said fairly there, look, are we supposed to take DOJ at their word for what we should and should not think is important. Look, I'm not confident, this is going to have before the 2024 election.

EISEN: I'll tell you, having done it for 30 years, including practice in law with Trump's lawyer --

REID: You've tried a former president of the United States for an election?

EISEN: I have. As impeachment council --

REID: In the weeks before the election?

EISEN: And as impeachment counsel, high crimes and misdemeanors, it can be done. I practice law with John Lauro, who's his lawyer. Criminal defense lawyers all the time, the judge tells you, you got to do it, you do it.

ACOSTA: All right. And, Andrew McCabe, the Trump Campaign spokesperson, Stephen Chung, they're sounding kind of pleased about this. They said this is a major setback to the DOJ's per se to deny President Trump a fair and legal process. It's sound like they're cheering on this is being pushed back. I mean, this is going to go way beyond the Republican primaries and as -- that we just had this discussion about it a few moments ago, it could get pushed off again and again and again.

ANDREW MCCBE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think Mr. Chung's statements are little overheated. There's no question both sides came in with pretty aggressive asks, the prosecution for a December trial date, Mr. Trump's team for essentially no trial date ever. And the judge solomonically put it right in the middle.

And what I was impressed with is her order has taken into account reasonable, factual elements upon which she based this prediction, this desire to have the trial in May.

Now, I'm sorry, Norm, I'm going to have to go with Paula. My overwhelming feeling is this will slip, and as it slips, it gets closer to Election Day, that looks more like it pushing past the election. But we'll see. I think it's on a reasonable path and we'll have to see how it goes.

JIMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Okay. I'm adding to THE SITUATION ROOM office pool on this one. As the daughter of a judge who was very, very tough, I still think it will go after the election. I just think they're going to try to take advantage every time they can. That is their goal.

I just want to add, there is no question whether this happens in May or June or after the election, it's going to play a role on the campaign trail. You're going to see candidates like Chris Christie trying to make hay out of it. You're going to see other candidates twisting themselves into a pretzel, trying to walk the line so they don't alienate Trump's base and Republican voters.

But my question really is, is it going to change many votes? I'm not talking about independents. I'm talking about Republicans. They know this is coming. It's baked in.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, Norm Eisen, I mean, we may have a former president here soon who will have more indictments than impeachments. How did these other cases that are looming fit into this? There's no formal coordination on timing but, I mean, you can see a scenario next year where Trump is literally bouncing from the courtroom to the campaign trail back and forth.

EISEN: One trial that is extremely unlikely to slip is Judge Merchan in the Manhattan D.A. case. He set that for March. That's a firm date. Jack Smith is a master chess player. He's been doing this for a very long time.

So, now with the target letter in the 2020 election interference case, in case all of you are right and that trial slips, what does Jack Smith do? He's going to file in D.C. very favorable bench, great jury pool for him, says, fine, Judge Cannon, you want to move that trial, we'll just slide in the 2020 election interference trial and we'll do that before the election.

ACOSTA: Andrew, who's going to play the air traffic controller here, I mean, with all these cases flying back and forth? MCCABE: Well, there doesn't have to be an air-traffic controller. Each judge appointed for life, they make decisions in their courtroom, according to their docket, the way they want them. When they're bumped up against hard dates and other actual cases that are going to trial, they'll consider that, but they don't have to coordinate in any particular way.

ACOSTA: And, Jamie, doesn't it stand to reason that a January 6th case could potentially happen after the election? If we're not seeing a documents case going to trial until May of next year, we haven't even seen an indictment if it's coming. We should say, technically, we don't know if it's coming, but that potentially could slip well past the election. Voters might not have a chance to take into consideration any of these cases.

GANGEL: So, first, I think there's no question an indictment is coming in the January 6th case. And, you know, to Norm's point, bringing that case in Washington, D.C., I've talked to Justice Department sources who say there are very few judges in the Washington -- on that Washington federal bench that will put up with the quote was Trump shenanigans on it.


So, it may very well be that the documents case doesn't happen until after the election, but there's a very strong push on the January 6th case in Washington.

ACOSTA: All right. One thing we can count on is shenanigans, I think. Thanks to all of you, and thanks for the shenanigans over here. That was quite good. I appreciate it very much.

All right, just ahead Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is vowing a military response after four days of Russian attacks on Ukraine's grain infrastructure. We'll have a live report from Kyiv coming up.

And we remember the life and music of Tony Bennett who died today at 96. Coming up, I'll speak with both Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble, that's right, both coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You don't want to miss that. Stay tuned.


ACOSTA: In Ukraine, Russia is stepping up its assault on the key port city of Odessa, hammering civilian infrastructure for a fourth consecutive night.


For more, I'm joined by CNN Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt, who is in Kyiv for us.

Alex, as Ukraine braces for more Russian strikes, President Zelenskyy says there will be a response to these attacks in Odessa. Give us the latest. ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. President Zelenskyy not offering any details but vowing that there will be a response for these four days in a row, at least. We're still waiting to see what happens tonight, but for now, four days in a row of ferocious attacks.

President Zelenskyy did meet with his top commanders earlier. He said following that meeting that only absolute evil can inflict such attacks.

Jim, we were right in the middle of these attacks. We watched them unfold this unbelievable combination of drones and cruise missiles in the middle of the night.

Today, the fourth day was a little bit different. It happened in the early day light hours of the morning, seven cruise missiles hitting region just outside of Odessa City, still within the Odessa region, hitting what Ukrainians call an infrastructure facility and destroying equipment, that facility as well as around 120 tons of food.

Now, Ukraine is accusing Russia of racketeering because they pulled out of this grain deal, saying that they're trying to drive food prices up so that they can make a profit off of hunger. The global community has accused Russia of weaponizing hunger.

Russia, meanwhile, is saying that this is in response -- these attacks on Odessa and elsewhere are in response to that Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge which connects Russia with Russian illegally annexed Crimea.

Interestingly, Jim, President Zelenskyy is saying that after that bracing attack by Ukraine on Monday, Ukraine is going to keep attacking that bridge because it is so vital to Russia. Zelenskyy calling it an enemy facility that must be neutralized. Jim?

ACOSTA: And, Alex, we're also hearing interesting comments from the CIA director, Bill Burns, on how Putin will eventually respond to that attempted rebellion last month. What can you tell us about that?

MARQUARDT: And how he will respond specifically to the leader of that rebellion, Yevgeny Prigozhin. These really are fascinating comments by Bill Burns, the CIA director. Clearly, he does not believe that this saga between Putin and Prigozhin is over. There were immediate questions about what Prigozhin's fate would be.

Burns is saying that Putin will not act immediately. He doesn't want to appear uncertain. He doesn't want to be seen overreacting. He doesn't want to be seen as doing anything rash, but that revenge, Burns says, Putin believes is a dish best served cold. Here's a little bit more of what he had to say.


WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold. So, he's going to try to settle the situation to the extent he can. But, again, in my experience Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback. So, I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this.

If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn't fire my food taster.


MARQUARDT: So, Burns saying there that Putin is waiting for things to settle down. But, clearly, in the Biden administration's opinion this was the most direct assault Burns said to Putin's rule in the 23 years he has been in power. Jim?

ACOSTA: Yes, revenge may certainly be on the menu. All right, Alex Marquardt, thanks very much, stand by.

For more on this, we're joined by CNN Contributor on Russian Affairs Jill Dougherty. Jill, great to see you. What do you make of this analysis from the CIA director, Bill Burns? Why might Putin be biding his time to retaliate against Prigozhin? We kind of saw this coming.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, right now, that rebellion has really unleashed a lot of groups, and a lot of the groups are on the right. These are extremists, they are ultranationalists and they are really kind of dangerous guys.

So, I think what Putin is trying to do, number one, is to figure what do you do with Prigozhin. And as we all know Prigozhin, who led that rebellion, was really valuable because he had man, armed men and he also have this enormous series of companies that helped out the Russian government on various levels.

But then you have to figure out what do you do with these guys who are saying the conventional military in Russia is not cruel enough, is not harsh enough, and that we really have to take it to Ukraine and do even more.

And these are the people that are really, really dangerous. And they could be dangerous to Putin as well. So, I think that's what's going on and that's what the director is referring to.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. All right, Jill Dougherty, Alex Marquardt, our thanks to both of you, I really appreciate it. Thanks to Alex for all his great work in Ukraine. Thanks so much.

Coming up, a musical talent for the ages, we're remembering Tony Bennett as some of the biggest names in the business mourn his passing. We'll talk to two of them, Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr., that's why both of them will be in THE SITUATION ROOM.


They're joining us next.


ACOSTA: Tonight, people around the world are feeling the loss of one of the greatest crooners in music history, Tony Bennett. The legendary singer has died at the age of 96. CNN's Stephanie Elam looks back at Bennett's long career and how he brought joy to multiple generations of fans.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A ledged on stage, Tony Bennett's career spanned more than 70 years.


He was opening up for Pearl Bailey when Bob Hope discovered him in 1949 in a New York City club.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know it's been about 16 years since I discovered you singing in a Greenwich Village Nightclub. How come this is your first appearance on my television show?

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: Well, I've been waiting for you to make good.

ELAM: Bennett had a string of hits in the '50s, but the best was yet to come. He won his first Grammy Award in 1963 for his song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, and performed it on the Judy Garland Show.

The crooner's unique voice and timeless style helped him win a total of 19 Grammys and two Emmys throughout his career.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony Bennett, ladies and gentlemen, maybe the best pop singer in the whole world.

BENNETT: I asked Sinatra, why do you think we stayed around so long, and he said we stayed with good songs.

ELAM: But the classics weren't always hits. In the 70s, Bennett found himself without a recording contract. He was in debt and battling a drug problem.

BENNETT: I realized that I thought I was doing well with the drugs and I really wasn't.

ELAM: That's when Bennett's son, Danny, stepped in as his manager. Bennett resigned with Columbia Records and began to revitalize his career. It was then he discovered a new audience, the MTV generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, it's Tony Bennett.

BENNETT: Hey, good to see you.

The Simpsons, we did a commercial for MTV, and they liked it so much they gave me an unplugged special, and it won Album of the Year.

ELAM: Bennett went onto collaborate with singers like Amy Winehouse for Body and Soul, and Lady Gaga for The Lady is Tramp.

At 85, he became the oldest living artist to hit number one on the Billboard 200 chart with his Duets Two Album. Several years later, he toured with Lady Gaga to promote their album, Cheek to Cheek. Yet Bennett's talent went beyond singing. He was an accomplished painter with artwork at the Smithsonian.

BENNETT: I have a charmed life because I've always known what I wanted to do.

ELAM: He also used his voice for more than singing. After serving in World War II and participating in the liberation of a concentration camp, Bennett became a pacifist and anti-war activist. And in 1965, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Belafonte in Selma.

Tributes to the legendary artist pouring in from Billy Joel and Elton John to Hilary Clinton and the King family.

The son of a grocer and seamstress, Bennett married three times and had four children. He and his third wife, Susan, founded the Exploring Arts Foundation, and opened the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York.

BENNETT: Everybody has a dream and hope that something is going to work for them, and then when it happens it's a great joy.

ELAM: Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016, but with the encouragement of his doctors, kept doing what he loved best, singing.

He cut his final album, Love for Sale, with Lady Gaga and performed with her one last time in two sold-out concerts for his 95th birthday.

LADY GAGA, SINGER: He's my musical companion. And he's the greatest singer in the whole world.

ELAM: Aired on CBS, it was a moving tribute to a musical legend.


ACOSTA: What a voice, what a life. Our thanks to Stephanie Elam for that outstanding look back on Tony Bennett's life.

So many music stars are paying tribute to Tony Bennett tonight, including two Grammy Award-winning singers. Michael Buble will join us in just a moment.

But right now, we are pleased to welcome Harry Connick Jr. into THE SITUATION ROOM. It is an embarrassment of riches (ph) for us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Harry, great to see you. How are you remembering this icon and your friend, Tony Bennett? I mean, we were just looking through all those clips there. What an amazing life.

HARRY CONNICK JR., SINGER: It's good to be with you, Jim. Thanks for having me. I was so sad to hear about it because I've known Tony for years, probably since I was a teenager. I think, when he came through New Orleans was the first time I met him.

And I just remember him aside from -- we could talk for hours about what an unbelievable musical talent he was, but he was so nice to me, always so kind, his arms were always open. [18:30:02]

And I just have a lot of laugh when I think about it, because he was the kind of guy I would love to have him come on stage and sing with me, but you also had to be careful because you knew who was going to get the most applause, and it wasn't going to be me.

ACOSTA: I'm sure a lot of singers felt that way. But how did Tony Bennett's unique impact on pop and jazz inspire you because it was such a unique and iconic voice?

CONNICK: Yes. His voice was one of a kind. You know, he just had this incredible ability to interpret the lyrics and an unbelievable amount of power in his voice. When you couple that with his elegance, his humility and his incredible ability to bring an audience into some of the Great American Songbooks, it was one of these once in a lifetime. There was nobody who really did it like him and I don't think there ever be anybody who does it like Tony Bennett.

ACOSTA: Yes, what was it like being -- star struck yourself at first?

CONNICK: I'll tell you a quick story. When I was in my mid-20s, I was playing a concert, there were a bunch of singers on the bill. And the way the lineup was I was going out to sing and he was going to follow me, which is a very good thing because you don't want to follow Tony Bennett. And I sang, I got out there with the microphone, and I usually hold the mic pretty close to my mouth. But this time I saw him in the wings watching me and I held the mic about 2 feet away. And I was saying in my mind I hope he's watching this. My sound is getting bigger. Tony Bennett has got a big sound but I'm working on my sound.

So, I sang the song, it was fine, I went offstage. I said, hi, Mr. Bennett. He says, oh, hi. He walks out. He says, good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and takes the microphone and puts it down on the piano and sang the song without a microphone. And I'm like I just wanted to crawl into a hole because that's why you don't follow Tony Bennett. You can't. You're not going to win.

ACOSTA: Kind of a mic drop moment there. Harry Connick Jr., great to talk to you. We could go on all night. I really appreciate you coming to THE SITUATION ROOM, and my hats off to you as well. What an amazing career you've had, and thanks for sharing those special memories. We really appreciate it.

CONNICK: Thank you, Jim. Good to be with you.

ACOSTA: All right, good to be with you.

All right, nowm let's bring in another modern day crooner and Grammy Award Winning Artist Michael Buble. He is also with us. Thanks for joining us, Michael, great to see you. And you had the honor of collaborating with Tony Bennett on several duets. I have to ask you about that. What was it like to sing with such a giant in the industry? It is tough to share a stage with him, I have to imagine.

MICHAEL BUBLE, GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING SINGER: Yes Well, I mean, he's incredibly talented but he was always warm and gracious. And, you know, as a kid who had so much reverence for him and the heroes that come before me and the Great American Songbook, you can imagine how much it meant to have him take a kid like me under his wing. And I loved just every time I got a chance to be with him, to talk with him, to ask him questions.

And I remember the first time I was with him. I was very nervous. I told the story too many times but it bears repeating. I said, Mr. Bennett, I have stolen everything from you and Frank and Dean and Bobby and Al. And he said to me, kid, he said, if you steal from one person you're a thief, he said. But if you steal from everybody, it's research. And I've told that story so many times. And I continue to steal from those greats and from him. What a class act.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And that is an amazing story. And I think about how he had such an amazing stage presence early on in his career right up until the end and just had this powerful voice that was unmistakable. What was it about Tony Bennett that connected with you?

BUBLE: Well, I loved that. Listen, the voice was unique, that God kissed that man's throat and everybody knew it. The great ones knew it. Frank knew it. They all knew it.

What I really find fascinating about it, though, is now that I got to spend 20 years watching and being and seeing this guy, I was always amazed by the fact -- it's a great lesson to learn, by the way, in any business you're in. Know who you are. Be confident in who you are, and he was.

And even though times change and tastes change and your audience goes and comes and your popularity wanes, if you're really confident and you know who you are and you have that kind of integrity, they'll find you. And we always found Tony.

As a matter of fact, coming here today, a girlfriend of mine was outside just was in a mess.


And I said, are you okay? And she said, well, I had a really tough day, I loved Tony Bennett. And she said, I spent the whole morning listening to him. And she's 24. She's 24 years old. She's a kid. And now we pay great respect, and those of us who are lucky enough, people like Harry Connick Jr., and myself, and Lady Gaga, and Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, people that he sort of opened up to and took under their wing, now it's our wonderful responsibility to make sure in our small ways we keep the legacy of not only Tony but I think the greatest gift America ever gave to the artist, the Great American Songbook, we keep it going in his name. What an honor and a real privilege to be able to do that.

ACOSTA: And, you know, what a remarkable music career he has spanning more than 70 years, touching just about every generation over the last century. What sort legacy does he leave behind, do you think?

BUBLE: I think it's never ending. I truly do. I think he's truly an icon. I mean, he has changed the face of music and it's not just in the beautiful country of America or even North America, including Canada. It is worldwide.

I mean, listen, I toured nearly 50 countries this year and there's not a place -- there's not a language spoken that doesn't love him and that won't love him forever. He'll become part of all our lives in wonderful moments when we get married or when we fall in love to difficult moments, you know, when we're saying goodbye to one another. He's just become a part of culture. And you can imagine it's a very strange day for so many of us.

You know, I (INAUDIBLE) on Danny this morning and we talked. And I told, Danny, listen, how remarkable it was for me as the father of four kids to know that his kid loved him so much and understood the legacy and was a part of that journey in keeping this incredible dude more than relevant the way he did. I mean, it is a fascinating tale. It truly is. The movie -- it just means a lot to me that I can come on here, Jim, and just sort of share what it meant for me to have him in my life.

And, I mean, it changed my career, man. When a guy like that says to the world, hey, this is -- this guy is okay, that really does -- it really does change things for you.

ACOSTA: I bet. And that's always going to stay with you. Whether we've had times of great sadness or great joy in our lives, it seems like he was part of that soundtrack. And I think that's what's just going to be so special about him. We always leaned on Tony in those moments in our lives.

BUBLE: You said it best. He said, I am the original American idol, and he still is.

ACOSTA: He really is, no question about it. Michael Buble, honored to have you on. Thanks so much. We're all thrilled to have you with us, Harry Connick Jr. as well. You're both wonderful. Thanks so much. And what a tribute to Tony Bennett. I'm sure he'd be proud.

We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Police are ramping up their investigation into suspected serial killer Rex Heuermann one week after his arrest. The probe now expanding into multiple states.

For more on this story, I'm joined by CNN's Polo Sandoval in New York. Polo, what's the latest on the case?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim. So, a source that's part of the ongoing investigation regarding the Gilgo Beach murders saying that there are at least two reasons why they believe that there were some or all of the suspected killer's victims may have been killed at his home on Long Island. That is, for instance, because at the time of the commission of the murders, some sources say or at least what we've heard from investigators that Rex Heuermann's wife was not in New York state at the time.

So, authorities seem to believe that is certainly might be more than a coincidence and may have provided those ideal conditions or at least that setting for him to allegedly commit those murders. But there's also this cell phone triangulation data that investigators have pored over, specifically that of the victims here that seems to show that they were being lured towards the suspect's home, basically being lured towards their murder here.

And there's also this investigation that seems to be now expanding to involve at least four states. We understand that authorities in Nevada and in South Carolina are now revisiting old missing persons cases. Why Nevada? Well, he seemed to have owned a time share in Las Vegas.

But then this tie in terms of South Carolina, where colleagues at the Chester News and reporter tonight actually obtained a search warrant as they continue to pore over property owned by the suspect in this case. And when you look at the list of items that investigators here are trying to track down, including personal effects of the victims, possible photos or recordings depicting these victim and these firearms possibly as well, it give you an idea what's going on, and just the wide scope of this investigation as it continues to proceed and to move forward.

As for Heuermann, we understand that he has pleaded not guilty and continues to maintain his innocence as this investigation continues. Meanwhile, here in Long Island, investigation now leading into eight days of searching the suspect's home now.

ACOSTA: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

Coming up, we're just learn about another provocative move by North Korea. Details ahead and reaction from a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. That's coming up.



ACOSTA: Just into CNN, South Korea is reporting that North Korea has fired multiple cruise missiles into the sea off the western coast of the Korean peninsula.

Let's discuss that and more with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

How concerned are you about these actions from North Korea as the U.S. has had no word on this American soldier now presumed to be in North Korean custody?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, first of all, we're all thinking about Mr. King and his family. We don't know why he went over to the North Korean side. And we hope to receive more information about him.

With regard to these missile tests, this is the latest in a string of missile tests recently. I think they fired cruise missiles into the ocean early morning Saturday in Korea. And so we're going to learn more next week when we go back to Washington and I receive a classified briefing about it.


ACOSTA: And on Putin's war in Ukraine, a top French official tells CNN that China is providing military equipment to Russia. Has the U.S. seen evidence of that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I haven't seen evidence of lethal aid being provided. I think that, quite frankly, after the rebellion by Prigozhin recently, I think that the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party and chairman Xi Jinping are probably re-evaluating the whole situation with regard to Russia.

All that being said, I think that the Biden administration has made it very clear that any provision of such lethal aid would trigger even more consequences for the CCP, and it would be done on a bipartisan basis, certainly out of Congress as well.

ACOSTA: And, Congressman, the defense intelligence agency says there is no reason to doubt that Russia has transferred tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Is that your understanding? How worrying is that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: It's concerning. They've telegraphed this for some time at this point. And I think that any same that there is this type of transfer of, you know, these weapons, it's not good.

All that being said, the NATO alliance stands strong. And, of course, we maintain a very credible deterrent with regard to any kind of use on the alliance, and we'll be monitoring this very closely. I haven't seen evidence that they are planning any kind of use in Ukraine, which would be obviously worrying as well.

ACOSTA: All right. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," right after THE SITUATION ROOM, Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, that's coming up at 7:00 Eastern, just a short time from now.

We'll have more news just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're tracking the anticipated box office boom from the new "Barbie" movie, and the other hot film opening this weekend "Oppenheimer". What will Barbenheimer mean for Hollywood during some trying times for the industry?



ACOSTA: Across the nation tonight, a sea of pink has Hollywood seeing green. The movie industry is banking on a blockbuster weekend for the highly anticipated dual openings of "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer," the phenomenon dubbed "Barbenheimer."

CNN's Brian Todd is outside of a movie theater here in Washington.

Brian, a lot of people having fun with the "Barbenheimer" craze. And it looks very busy behind you. That is good news for what has been an ailing industry.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jim. This is going to be an injection of cash that specifically the movie theater industry desperately needs as you see the buzz behind me just ahead of these showings coming up. You know, success for these two films is crucial, especially now given the fact that there are writers and actor strikes taking place at the same time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have anything big planned. Just a giant blowout party with all the Barbies and planned choreography and a bespoke song. You should stop by.

TODD: This weekend, millions will be taking "Barbie" up on her invitation, stopping by theaters for showings of her blockbuster movie and for the epic historical drama "Oppenheimer."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if we can be trusted with such a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The "Barbenheimer" sensation right now that's going on, I think back-to-back films, just like two completely opposite, polar opposites would be really fun to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very colorful. Like the promo, Mattel went all out. This smells like a billion dollar, like it was lit. Y'all should go watch it.

TODD: Industry analysts call it the "Barbenheimer" craze, two major movies debuting on the same weekend.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST, COMSCORE: This weekend is one of the most important in box office history, and it could be one of the top-grossing weekends ever.

TODD: Industry analysts project that "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" could propel the overall take at the box office for all tickets sold to over $200 million, or even close to $300 million just this weekend. Many moviegoers aren't opting for just one of the films.

CODY DUFF, THEATER GENERAL MANAGER: We've got people not only buying tickets for just one or the other but also buying tickets for both movies.

TODD: It's a Hollywood-style comeback story for the movie theater industry, which was devastated by the COVID pandemic.

DERGARABEDIAN: In the year of 2020, when the pandemic essentially shut down theaters in the middle of March, the box office basically went to zero.

TODD: The openings come as Hollywood actors and writers are on strike at the same time for the first time in more than 60 years. Analysts say the strikes aren't likely to affect the popularity of either of these two movies because the actors had previously been able to go out and do publicity campaigns for the films, which they can't do while on strike.

"Oppenheimer's" star Cillian Murphy even did a shilling for "Barbie."

CILLIAN MURPHY, ACTOR: I mean, I'll be going to see Barbie 100 percent. I can't wait to see it.

TODD: So much buzz, yet such dissimilar styles and genres for the two movies. "Barbie", released by Warner Bros Discovery, the parent company of CNN, is a light, feel-good comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the best day ever.

TODD: "Oppenheimer," a brooding narrative on the creation of the atomic bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they won't understand it until they've used it.

DERGARABEDIAN: It's very odd. I mean, this is an odd couple like no other.


TODD (on camera): Industry analysts say that "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" are not just good for each other. They're likely to lift ticket sales for the other big summer releases like the latest "Mission Impossible" and the "Spider-Man" movie and the movie "Sound of Freedom", which are all being shown at this theater behind me.

ACOSTA: Yeah, Brian, I saw "Barbie" at a preview earlier this week. It was a lot of fun. But let me ask you this, there's been a lot of buzz about making "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" a double feature. I can't imagine folks doing this, but it sounds like a lot of folks are doing this.

Have you spoken to folks who are going to do that this weekend?

TODD: Absolutely. And a lot of people are making plans to do that, Jim, seeing them back-to-back on a given afternoon or evening. But if you do that, you've got to be ready. That's about a six-hour investment of time.

ACOSTA: All right. That's a lot of time.

All right. Brian Todd, our Ken here at CNN, Brian, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

I'm Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching. Go see a movie this weekend. It's great to see the movies coming back.

And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now. Have a good night. Have a great weekend.